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HE Essa Al Haj Al Maidoor

UAE, DUBAI - Health & Education

In Rude Health

Director General, Dubai Health Authority

Bio

HE Essa Al Haj Al Maidoor is responsible for overseeing and providing leadership guidance for all policy, regulatory, and public health matters in the Emirate of Dubai. He is also responsible for the overall strategy of the health sector in Dubai. Prior to this appointment, since September 2012, he was the Deputy Director-General of Dubai Municipality. He previously held the post of Assistant Director for Engineering and Planning at the Municipality. He has earned his Bachelor’s degree in Engineering from Utah State University. He is also President of the Society of Engineers, Chairman of the Infrastructure Committee in Dubai Municipality, and Chairman of the Green Building Committee in Dubai Municipality.

"Education is vital for the sustainability and development of the health sector."

What are some of the most important projects coming up for the DHA?

We are concentrating on Dubai’s health sector, keeping in mind the vision of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum to achieve happiness by improving and developing our services. With the health sector in particular, development cannot be in one direction; we have undertaken multiple projects at the same time, all of which are aimed to provide holistic development for the health sector. First, we are renovating our existing hospitals, building new hospitals, renovating old primary healthcare centers, and building new ones—that is from the engineering point of view. Second, we are concentrating on the mobility of services, which is essential due to factors such as population increase, expansion of geographical areas, and so on. We are concentrating on the mobility of services, rather than waiting for patients to come to us. This includes ambulance services, geriatric services, and people with special needs. Our approach will save much time and reduce the anxiety that patients are their family members often go through. And thanks to technological advancements, we are able to provide laboratory services such as blood tests through the mobile medium.

How is the DHA planning to utilize IT services to create total health solutions?

IT is a critical component for the development of the health sector and there is considerable potential in establishing electronic hospital files, management systems, and improving the efficiency of operations. We are working toward the implementation of electronic medical records systems, hospital information systems, as well as using IT to improve the patient experience. All these projects will help enhance efficiency in the health sector.

“Education is vital for the sustainability and development of the health sector.”

What role does education play in the development of the health sector of Dubai?

Education is vital for the sustainability and development of the health sector. After all, human capital is the lifeline of the sector. The DHA has several programs for ongoing medical education for our medical staff and we are collaborating with universities to ensure Dubai provides medical education in areas that are much needed to develop the health sector.

How does the compulsory healthcare initiative contribute to the development of Dubai both socially and economically?

Mandatory health insurance guarantees totality of services. Once implemented, a patient has universal access to healthcare across private and public hospitals. Wherever you go, service is available; there are no longer specific venues that provide specific services. In Dubai there are 2,700 clinics, centers, and hospitals. And given the size of Dubai, that means there is a clinic on every corner. With universal healthcare insurance, one could enjoy coverage wherever they go. It will increase the speed, totality, and reduce the burden on the clinics and hospitals. Moreover, compulsory health care coverage will play a major role in guaranteeing that a person need not worry about making payments when visiting a hospital or clinic. At the same time, it will encourage investors to invest in the health sector, while positive competition amongst players will further lead to high quality of health services across hospitals and health centers. Dubai is already witnessing high-demand in health investment. Last year, everyday there was more than one new license issued in Dubai. This will play a big role in achieving the vision of His Highness. It will also automatically bolster the medical tourism initiative. DHA has already established a medical tourism club, which comprises 30 private and public hospitals. We are working hand-in-hand with the private sector to develop our services, which in turn will provide an impetus to the medical tourism initiative.

The DHA has introduced a price cap increase of 4.22% on healthcare services. How do you think the dynamic between price and quality will play out within the health sector?

We are not saying not to increase the price, but rather, that when you do so, you need to convince us that you have improved quality by introducing introduced new equipment or specialties. The price regulation model is based on the annual rate of inflation published by the Dubai Statistics Centre which was 4.22%. This is a legitimate and reasonable model for investors in the health sector. They have 11 months in which to notify, as a hospital, of a prospective price increase. They have to convince us as to why they need to increase the price. This way, it will create stability. Just inflating prices does not mean there is a sustainable development in the sector. We have essentially adopted more of a long-term perspective. In so doing, we protect the investor’s investments in the field. There is also a price control mechanism. Hopefully, with this, we are building a system that will create a sustainable environment for healthcare investors.

How do you attract and retain international talent to work in Dubai?

The secret here is the living environment. People like to live in a place that is safe, affordable, that provides services, and that is secure health wise. That is what we are trying to build; totality of international standards. His Highness says that if one service is lacking—water, roads, education, and so on—people cannot be contented. And meanwhile, when it comes to practicing medicine, it is more than a financial consideration; it is also a matter of research and education, which is supremely important for many doctors. Often, doctors prefer the public sector because the government offers additional advantages, such as education and research opportunities. These individuals tend to be keen to develop the field of medicine itself, and the government is keen to support this. Therefore, it is by understanding the motivation of medical professionals that you best offer them the conditions that they find most convincing.

© The Business Year – March 2015

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